Charlotte Day 1: NASCAR Hall of Fame + More

A lacrosse tournament took us to Charlotte last weekend and, seeing as none of us had ever visited before, we extended our trip by a bit to be able to see the city!  We are SO glad that we did that and really made the most of our time.

Day 1:

  • Stayed at Westin Uptown Charlotte
  • Lunch at Amelie’s
  • Visited NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Played at The Green
  • Dinner at RuRu’s Tacos + Tequilla

Day 2:

  • Breakfast at Duck Donuts
  • Visited US National Whitewater Center
  • Dinner at Sonic (I know… we were STARVING!)

We kicked off Charlotte by walking to lunch at Amelie’s French Bakery.  It came recommended by a number of you here and on Instagram and did not disappoint!  I had the pimento cheese with tomato and basil tartines, a blackberry lavender french soda and macaroons.  Swoon!

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With our bellies full, we then walked the couple of blocks down to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  We loved seeing the crosswalks turn to checkered flags as we got close.

 

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As for the attraction itself, we were very pleasantly surprised.  We aren’t a NASCAR family, but always try to do “local” things when in a new place, so this was an obvious choice.  The hall is engaging, interactive, interesting and honestly just plain fun!

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We started our visit in the High Octane Theater.  A brief but very interesting movie told the history of NASCAR (Honey and I had no idea that it all started with bootleggers trying to outrun the police on their moonshine deliveries!), the sports key drivers and many memorable moments.

Afterwards we walked Glory Road with cars throughout the years, a video and a few interactive elements.

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The Hall of Honor honors NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees.  There were so many interesting artifacts, and the littles loved picking up all of the phones to hear their stories.

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Whit loved trying out the Sky Box overlooking Glory Road.  I’m thinking this would be the ideal way to see a race :-)

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Seeing Kyle Busch’s crashed up car was pretty telling – we learned a lot about NASCAR innovations throughout the years and how he walked away from this alive.

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When we entered we were each given a Hard Card to use throughout the attraction.  There were quite a few kiosks with interactive elements using the card, and you could earn points for completing activities.  We didn’t keep track of these and didn’t do every one, but it was a neat touch.

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There is an area where you can pay an extra $5 to get in a car and participate in a virtual race.  Before doing so you have to go learn how to drive the car in a separate *free* exhibit.  Once we did this a couple of times the littles didn’t even ask to do the other one :-)

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Our favorite part was pairing up to race each other in a pit stop.  You had to raise the car, change the tire and fill it with gas.  The baby and I out performed the big guys 4 out of 5 tries!!  It’s pretty incredible that pit crews can fill the car up and change FOUR tires in 12 seconds these days!  (Somebody does NOT like being outperformed by his mommy and little brother…)

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Heritage Speedway contains artifacts from throughout NASCAR’s colorful history.  We particularly loved the Coke pants worn by Bobby Allison in 1972!  After our visit to The World of Coke, we now know that replica pajamas were made for the masses!!

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We left the NASCAR Hall of Fame with an appreciation for all that goes into the sport – training, technology, endurance, passion, and a whole lot of prayer!  So much so, in fact, that Honey and I have added taking the boys to a race to our long term bucket list.  (Yes, I keep a list like this!  LOL)

If you go:

  • We went on a Sunday afternoon and the place was nearly empty!  It was fantastic!
  • Outside food and drink are not allowed but they do have a restaurant on site.
  • It’s not cheap to get in ($70 for our family) – allow time to really explore and do it all.  If we had had to rush I don’t think it would have been as enjoyable and worth the price of admission.
  • Have an open mind!  Everything here is very well done, interesting, engaging and even educational.

With no real agenda and some time on our hands, we took a leisurely walk back to the Westin.  We were so fortunate to stumble upon the most enchanting little literary themed pocket park called The Green!

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Around every corner of the lushly landscaped park were whimsical statues, structures and signs.

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We particularly loved the Lewis Carroll sign (he wrote Alice in Wonderland) not only because it’s a favorite book, but also because Honey has three generations of Carroll Lewises in his family named for the author!

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There was a darling little splash pad.

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And intriguing series of places to relax and enjoy the great outdoors!

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Bees buzz along the brick pathways…

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… and we delighted in a game of “first words” hop scotch!

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Just across the street from The Green we were fascinated by what we came to find out is the Charlotte Firebird sculpture outside of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.  A quick google search told us that it traveled around the world before being spied at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and purchased by Bechtler himself for Queen City!  A neat little connection to home for us.

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Back at the Westin for the rest of the late afternoon, the littles were itching to hit the pool.  And, speaking of the Westin, we enjoyed our stay and would go back again.  It was very nice and a great location.  Our view was of a huge construction site, but the littles LOVED that.  I booked the room just a few days in advance on Expedia for $130 a night.

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After pouring through all of your dinner suggestions, we ended up at RuRu’s Tacos and Tequilla.  It was such a charming little place tucked back in a lovely neighborhood reminiscent of Atlanta’s Buckhead.

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They don’t take reservations, but we arrived around 7 on a Sunday night and were seated on the lovely patio within 5 minutes.

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I had the pineapple jalapeno margarita and it was deeeelish! All of the tacos we tried were also very good and the creamy white beans were unique and tasty as well.

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I’ll be back tomorrow to share day 2 in Queen City!!
xoxo

Dixie Travels  |  Charlotte NC

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5 thoughts on “Charlotte Day 1: NASCAR Hall of Fame + More

  1. Love this post! I live on the coast of NC but need to visit Charlotte sometime. I recently found out about a government program that allows all 4th graders (along with 3 attending family or friends) free admission to Federal parks. It’s called every kid in a park. I wish I had heard about it sooner but wanted to share in case you and any readers hadn’t heard. It was super easy to get my daughter the card at the first park and then use it at other parks.

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